Isomorphic Labs signs AI drug discovery deals with Novartis, Lilly

Jan. 10, 2024

Alphabet subsidiary Isomorphic Labs has signed drug discovery collaborations potentially worth nearly $3 billion with Eli Lilly and Novartis. 

In the first deal, Isomorphic Labs will partner with Eli Lilly to discover small molecule therapeutics against multiple targets. Isomorphic will apply its proprietary technology platform, the next generation of AlphaFold, and access to computing power to Lilly's development programs. 

Per the deal, Lilly will hand Isomorphic an upfront cash payment of $45 million, with Isomorphic eligible to receive up to $1.7 billion in performance-based milestones.

In the second deal, Isomorphic will collaborate with Novartis, using the same state-of-the-art AI and technology platform, to discover small molecule therapeutics against three undisclosed targets.

In this deal, Isomorphic Labs will receive an upfront payment of $37.5 million from Novartis, in addition to Novartis funding select research costs. Isomorphic is eligible to receive up to $1.2 billion in performance-based milestones.

According to Isomorphic, the new iteration of its AlphaFold technology expands beyond proteins to include small molecules and nucleic acids. Through deep integration of AlphaFold with other breakthrough AI models developed at Isomorphic Labs, the company can better understand the underlying biological mechanisms of drug targets, and rationally design novel therapeutics.

The deals continue a trend of AI pacts for the pharma industry. 2023 closed with a rush of AI deal-making, as pharma companies cautiously explored AI's potential through strategic collaborations with tech-savvy companies.

Last December, Sanofi signed a multi-year AI research collaboration with Paris-based startup, Aqemia. Just prior to that, AstraZeneca signed a $247 million deal with generative AI specialist Absci to deliver an AI-designed antibody against an oncology target. Toronto-based Phenomic AI inked back-to-back deals with Astellas and Boehringer Ingelheim which leverage Phenomic’s expertise in target identification and stromal biology based on its proprietary scTx single-cell transcriptomics platform.